WASHINGTON -- Recent setbacks in the Colombian peace process do not mean negotiation is wrong, according to the Chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee, who today recommended five actions the United States government should take in renewing its involvement.
In a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright delivered Monday, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark (NJ) encouraged the U.S. government "to remain actively involved in the search for peace in Colombia, even when such involvement entails risks."
Violence this spring, including the murder of three Americans in March, prompted a withdrawal of U.S. involvement in the negotiations. According to Archbishop McCarrick, the violence should not mean an end to the peace process, however.
"It means, rather, that even greater persistence, firmness and creativity are necessary to make it succeed," he said.
Specifically, Archbishop McCarrick recommended five actions that should be taken by the United States:
- Continue to support the Colombian government in its pursuit of a peace based on justice for all sectors of society and in its rejection of a purely military solution to the war.
- Continue to insist on the highest standards of human rights conduct from the Colombian military, withholding assistance as appropriate and necessary.
- Condemn human rights violations from whatever quarter quickly and forcefully ....
- Continue to oppose any and all Colombian government collusion with the paramilitary forces, especially that involving the Colombian military ....
- Resume, in concert with the Colombian authorities, U.S. participation in the peace process, including meetings with all parties. Direct contacts involve risks, such as the risk of conferring unmerited status on some participants, but such risks are justified in pursuit of an end to the carnage in Colombia, according to Archbishop McCarrick.
Text of Archbishop McCarrick's letter.